Notes from the Nordic Summer University II

art, curating, recent work, time-out

During the week-long NSU session, I got engaged in a couple of ‘ad hoc’ projects (in addition to my presentation within Circle 7, which was the ticket to my participation here). The first one happened in the context of a cultural evening.* Together with a number of courageous persons, I staged an updated performance of a multilingual poetry reading first realized in August 2014.**

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2014 poster – for full story, see Training the Fundamentals of a Democratic Society

The original project sprung from a poem by Ukrainian author Tanya-Mariya Litvinyuk. In this re-staging, Ms. Litvinyuk is actually present through a sound recording sent from Kyiv the day before; her voice is heard from the laptop at the beginning. Then follows an English translation, read by Dr. Lucy Lyons, after which the English reading proceeds with ten words (all singled out from Ms. Litvinyuk’s poem). Back in 2014, those ten words sparked a collective writing process in a group of civil rights activists, and the poetic result of their joined efforts was translated from English into all languages spoken within the group. Here, I’m reading the Swedish version – followed by a fresh translation into Belarusian by NSU participant Alina Kalachova, created for this occasion. Crucial contributions (although not visible on screen) were also made by Maru Mushtrieva.

The multilingual reading evening engaged about 35 attendants, and took place in the school’s chapel.

My second ‘ad hoc’ engagement was in Disa Kamula’s workshop on Co-writing the future, where my contribution was the real-time mapping of an unfolding utopian narrative… From the resulting vision of a bright future, I finally erased all details but three:
…people of all ages…
…essential work… (cleaning up, that is)
…future generations in focus…

Mapping ‘Visionary Tampere Region’ workshop; resulting World Map,
and workshop leader Disa Kamula collecting workshop material afterwards.

What did I gather from this week? Art is knowledge, and artistic research is here to stay. Democratic structures are essential, although never perfect. Disco dancing is fun – thanks, Ami Skånberg Dahlstedt!
And the map is never complete.

* The NSU multilingual poetry evening was organized by Lara Hoffman, PhD student at Háskólanum á Akureyri, Iceland; she is also the editor of Ós – The Journal, a magazine which features works of fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and artworks in multiple languages.

** The 2014 Evening of Modern Ukrainian Poetry was organized by Yulia Oleksandriv and Julia Shevchenko, in collaboration with Stockholm International Library.

Notes from the Nordic Summer University I

art, recent work, time-out

As July turned August, my Latvian Easter experience brought me further, to Oslo; from an intimate three days’ winter session, to one full week of intense exchange in a much larger group of practitioners and academics within the Nordic Summer University

It took two different trains, a replacement bus, and finally the ‘trikk’ (Norwegian for ‘tram’) to reach Rønningen folkehøgskole at the outskirts of Oslo.

The NSU is an independent academic institution, since 1950 nomadically alternating between venues in the Nordic and Baltic countries. Among its founders and early pioneers were Johan Galtung – principal founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies – and Nobel prize laureate physicist Niels Bohr. Already in its beginnings, the NSU manifested the idea of interdisciplinarity; and to this day, it has remained open and playful, yet academically stringent; and (not least) with an interestingly democratic organization, free from carrying much administrative weight.

Glimpses from Rønningen folkehøgskole, run by the YWCA/YMCA of Norway

At this NSU Summer session, ten ongoing study circles gathered around themes such as Urban Studies: Between Creativity and Power; Nordic Environmental Ethics; Decolonizing Social Work... and The experiential in artistic practice and research: methods, knowledges and reflective processes – Circle 7, that is, where I took part. (The eleventh circle is the famous Children’s circle, where participants’ kids gather to have a good time too, and sometimes to contribute to the evening programme.)

Some random pictures from Circle 7

There was a full schedule almost every day of the week: for each circle, three lectures/workshops daily, followed by a common cultural evening programme, or the gathering of NSU’s General Assembly (where decisions were taken on next year’s activities and new board members and other in-charge functions were elected). In between, we could benefit from taking a walk in the surrounding areas, take a fresh swim in the river Aker… and for one day off, make excursions in the city.

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…to be continued…


Photo credit: Elina Saloranta

the Exhibition and Life (reconsidered) / day 26

art, curating, recent work, time-out

The first guests arrive twenty minutes before opening time, and from then I just need to stay in the flow – people coming and going all through the day… some chatting, some resting, moments of welcome feedback, many Q’s and A’s, some proper curating by a trusted colleague, a trained eye scrutinizing framing solutions… until, in the afternoon, all artworks are removed from one wall, and those who stay a little longer pick up charcoal and markers to leave some traces on the open surface. Finissage!

the Exhibition and Life (reconsidered) / day 25

art, curating, recent work, time-out

Once more, the spatial arrangements seem to have settled; a node. A steady stream of visitors – human and canine – resulting in a day with few photos, tiny adjustments only, suggestions not fully realized… but also, shared observations, reminiscences, recognitions… And, yes: a spontaneous performance by Mireia Rocher – creating friction, sound and warmth by drawing an invisible line around the walls with a slip of sandpaper. A powerful act of artistic courage and love; a conceptualization; a protective spell. Thank you Mireia! Thank you, all friendly souls from nearby and afar!

 

the Exhibition and Life (reconsidered) / day 24

art, curating, recent work, time-out

A lingering note from yesterday – the green feeling…

The first guest enters, dripping with rain, and makes herself at home. We compare experiences of how to balance red, blue and yellow into a floating grayness; of how to reconcile, to integrate, to pan for gold in the stream of time. Holding, and beholding, a connection beyond words. Another visitor uplifts some works of mine, turning them into a sculptural arrangement. Yet another shares his delight and hardships in trying to depart from representation in his painting practice. Newcomer or professional artist, self-taught or highly educated – what we experience is real.

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the Exhibition and Life (reconsidered) / day 23

art, curating, recent work, time-out

“Dare to be green!” A note left from one of yesterday’s evening guests greets me. Visitors come in small groups, we talk while moving things around; about the male gaze, and implications of setting frames and work titles – among other subjects. Meanwhile, I keep thinking about being green… What could it be?
A little later, Soundtower colleagues Karin, Katt and Julia arrive for a sounding session, with Margaretha and Åke joining in. A sonic meditation is followed by voice improvisations, lullabies and a love song, as Margaretha’s peony quietly blushes.


Then the large green canvas unfolds, just like spring bursts into full summer… Voices and violin take turns in responding. Daring, tapping into the green!

the Exhibition and Life (reconsidered) / day 22

art, curating, recent work, time-out

There’s no way this day could be summarized in a few sentences. Moments shared; fully lived, not recorded. A lengthy, intimate dialogue; an almost wordless collaboration; follow-up surprises around the corner; a shared meal; an open, gracious exchange on faith and art from pagan, Jewish, Christian, Muslim and non-confessional perspectives. What could I say, other than: Thank You – Innar, Em…

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…Per, Maria, Marcus, Vladan, Omol, Nina, Minas, Elisabeth and Bengt!

the Exhibition and Life (reconsidered) / day 21

art, curating, recent work, time-out

This is the beginning of the last week of the Exhibition – but, hopefully, Life will go on… This adventure will continue to produce meaning(s) throughout the rest of my artist life, I guess. Two of today’s guests represent the Archive for Temporary Art – an innovative, fun, clever artist/curator collective. A third visitor drops in; different preferences come forth, and negotiations start. The result? A tale of spiritual materiality, a perfect perishability. Thank you, Lisa and Carolina – thank you, unknown guest!

copyright Lisa Fält

the Exhibition and Life (reconsidered) / day 20

art, curating, recent work, time-out

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Day 20: this quiet Sunday afternoon allows me to add a new object – the silk kite that traveled to Japan, and back, last year. Then nothing noteworthy, until Johanna enters – thirty minutes before closing time – bringing fresh air and a fast-paced, playful flow that leaves the space refreshed and smiling, almost singing.

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